Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Super-sensitive and small: New MIT detector uses nanotubes to sense deadly gases

Image / Chang Young Lee
MIT researchers are designing sensors that use carbon nanotubes, shown here in middle and at top, to detect hazardous gases.
Image / Chang Young Lee

MIT researchers are designing sensors that use carbon nanotubes, shown here in middle and at top, to detect hazardous gases.

Abstract:
Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have built the most sensitive electronic detector yet for sensing deadly gases such as the nerve agent sarin.

Super-sensitive and small: New MIT detector uses nanotubes to sense deadly gases

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 9th, 2008

The technology, which could also detect mustard gas, ammonia and VX nerve agents, has potential to be used as a low-cost, low-energy device that could be carried in a pocket or deployed inside a building to monitor hazardous chemicals.

"We think this could be applied to a variety of environmental and security applications," said Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and senior author of a paper describing the work published this week in the online edition of Angewandte Chemie.

Strano's sensor has exhibited record sensitivity to molecules mimicking organophosphate nerve toxins such as sarin: It can detect minute quantities as low as 1 femtomole (1 billion molecules), roughly equivalent to a concentration of 25 parts per trillion. "There's nothing that even comes close," he said.

Sarin, which killed 12 people in a 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway, can kill at very low concentrations (parts per million) after 10 minutes, so highly sensitive detection is imperative to save lives. The new detector is far more sensitive than needed to detect lethal doses.

To build their super-sensitive detector, Strano and his team used an array of carbon nanotubes aligned across microelectrodes. Each tube consists of a single-layer lattice of carbon atoms, rolled into a long cylinder with a diameter about 1/50,000 of the width of a human hair, which acts as a molecular wire.

The nanotube sensors require very little power--about 0.0003 watts. One sensor could run essentially forever on a regular battery. "It's something that could sit in the corner of a room and you could just forget about it," Strano said.

When a particular gas molecule binds to the carbon nanotube, the tube's electrical conductivity changes. Each gas affects conductivity differently, so gases can be identified by measuring the conductivity change after binding.

The researchers achieved new levels of sensitivity by coupling the nanotubes with a miniature gas-chromatography column etched onto a silicon chip smaller than a penny. The column rapidly separates different gases before feeding them into the nanotubes.

The new MIT sensor is also the first nanotube sensor that is passively reversible at this level of sensitivity. To achieve this, the team needed to decrease how strongly the nanotube sensor binds different gas molecules on its surface, allowing the sensor to detect a series of gas exposures in rapid succession.

Using a newly described chemistry outlined in a separate paper published in January in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Strano and co-workers showed that this can be done by coating the nanotubes with amine-type molecules, which donate an extra pair of electrons to the nanotubes.

The coating allows gas molecules to bind to nanotubes but detach a few milliseconds later, allowing another molecule from the column to move in. With a network of these reversible sensors, a gas could be tracked as it spreads through a large area.

The lead author of the paper is Chang Young Lee, a graduate student in chemical engineering. Richa Sharma, another MIT graduate student in chemical engineering, is also an author of the paper. Adarsh Radadia and Richard Masel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the microcolumn technology.

The work was funded by the Department of Homeland Security under contract to the Federal Aviation Administration and MIT's Institute of Soldier Nanotechnology. Characterization facilities used for this work were supported by the Department of Energy. Microcolumn and detector development was funded in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

####

About MIT
The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Elizabeth A. Thomson
MIT News Office
Phone: 617-258-5402
E-mail:

Copyright © MIT

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Arrowhead Receives Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARO-HBV for Treatment of Hepatitis B February 15th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation for ARO-AAT February 15th, 2018

European & Korean Project To Demo World’s First 5G Platform During Winter Games February 15th, 2018

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes/Nanorods

Nanotube fibers in a jiffy: Rice University lab makes short nanotube samples by hand to dramatically cut production time January 11th, 2018

Touchy nanotubes work better when clean: Rice, Swansea scientists show that decontaminating nanotubes can simplify nanoscale devices January 4th, 2018

Paving the way for a non-electric battery to store solar energy: UMass Amherst scientists say a polymer chain organized like a string of Christmas lights assists energy storage December 22nd, 2017

Nanotubes go with the flow to penetrate brain tissue: Rice University scientists, engineers develop microfluidic devices, microelectrodes for gentle implantation December 19th, 2017

Sensors

Graphene on toast, anyone? Rice University scientists create patterned graphene onto food, paper, cloth, cardboard February 13th, 2018

Leti Chief Scientist Barbara De Salvo Will Help Kick Off ISSCC 2018 with Opening-Day Keynote: In Addition, Leti Scientists Will Present and Demo New Technology for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting February 8th, 2018

Engineers develop flexible, water-repellent graphene circuits for washable electronics January 24th, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Discoveries

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers February 15th, 2018

Rutgers-Led Innovation Could Spur Faster, Cheaper, Nano-Based Manufacturing: Scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film devices February 14th, 2018

Understanding brain functions using upconversion nanoparticles: Researchers can now send light deep into the brain to study neural activities February 14th, 2018

Announcements

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Arrowhead Receives Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARO-HBV for Treatment of Hepatitis B February 15th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation for ARO-AAT February 15th, 2018

European & Korean Project To Demo World’s First 5G Platform During Winter Games February 15th, 2018

Homeland Security

A dash of gold improves microlasers: The precious metal provides a 'nano' solution for improving disease detection, defense and cybersecurity applications October 9th, 2017

Two Scientists Receive Grants to Develop New Materials: Chad Mirkin and Monica Olvera de la Cruz recognized by Sherman Fairchild Foundation August 16th, 2017

Nanosensors on the alert for terrorist threats: Scientists interested in the prospects of gas sensors based on binary metal oxide nanocomposites November 5th, 2016

Nanobionic spinach plants can detect explosives: After sensing dangerous chemicals, the carbon-nanotube-enhanced plants send an alert November 2nd, 2016

Military

Graphene on toast, anyone? Rice University scientists create patterned graphene onto food, paper, cloth, cardboard February 13th, 2018

Silk fibers could be high-tech ‘natural metamaterials’ January 31st, 2018

Researchers use sound waves to advance optical communication January 22nd, 2018

New Method Uses DNA, Nanoparticles and Top-Down Lithography to Make Optically Active Structures: Technique could lead to new classes of materials that can bend light, such as for those used in cloaking devices January 18th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project